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NCJ Number: 50568 Find in a Library
Title: SOME EXPLORATIONS IN THE SCALING OF PENALTIES
Journal: JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN CRIME AND DELINQUENCY  Volume:15  Issue:2  Dated:(JULY 1978)  Pages:247-265
Author(s): L SEBBA
Corporate Author: National Council on Crime and Delinquency
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 19
Sponsoring Agency: National Council on Crime and Delinquency
Newark, NJ 07102
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: EFFORTS TO QUANTIFY THE RELATIVE SEVERITY OF DIFFERENT PENALTIES ARE REVIEWED, AND AN EXPLORATORY STUDY CONCERNED WITH DEVELOPING AN EMPIRICALLY BASED SEVERITY SCALE IS REPORTED.
Abstract: QUANTIFICATION TECHNIQUES IN CRIMINOLOGY HAVE BEEN APPLIED EXTENSIVELY TO THE MEASUREMENT OF THE SERIOUSNESS OF OFFENSES, BUT THE QUESTION OF THE RELATIVE SEVERITY OF DIFFERENT PENALTIES HAS BEEN NEGLECTED. THIS TOPIC IS OF THEORETICAL INTEREST IN ITSELF AND HAS IMMEDIATE PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR RESEARCH ON SENTENCING PRACTICES, ON THE SERIOUSNESS OF OFFENSES, AND ON DETERRENCE; IMPLEMENTATION OF PREVAILING NOTIONS OF PROPORTIONALITY IN SENTENCING POLICY; AND RELATED PROBLEMS OF JURISPRUDENCE. THERE HAVE BEEN ATTEMPTS TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF RESEARCH IN PENALTY SEVERITY BY SELECTING AN ARBITRARY MEASURE OF SEVERITY, SUCH AS IMPRISONMENT RATES. OTHER RESEARCHERS HAVE ASSIGNED ARBITRARY WEIGHTS TO VARIOUS PENALTIES. HOWEVER, IT IS NECESSARY TO DEVELOP AN EMPIRICALLY BASED SCALE, DERIVING FROM RESPONDENTS' PERCEPTIONS OF THE RELATIVE SEVERITY OF VARIOUS PENALTIES. METHODS USED IN MEASURING THE SERIOUSNESS OF OFFENSES MAY BE ADAPTED FOR THIS PURPOSE. IN ONE STUDY, STUDENTS WERE GIVEN QUESTIONNAIRES IN WHICH VARIOUS OFFENSES WERE DESCRIBED. ONE GROUP WAS ASKED TO ASSIGN NUMERICAL SCORES TO THE OFFENSES, WHILE THE OTHER ASSIGNED PENALTIES FROM A LIST OF 36 PENALTIES (DEATH, IMPRISONMENT FOR VARIOUS TERMS, SUSPENDED SENTENCES, PROBATION ORDERS, FINES). A SUBSAMPLE OF THE GROUP THAT SCORED OFFENSES ALSO ASSIGNED NUMERICAL SCORES TO THE 36 PENALTIES. ANALYSIS OF THE RESULTS SUGGESTS THAT THERE MAY NOT BE A HIGH DEGREE OF CONSISTENCY AMONG RESPONDENTS AS TO THEIR PERCEPTIONS OF THE RELATIVE SEVERITY OF DIFFERENT PENALTIES. SUPPORTING DATA AND A LIST OF REFERENCES ARE INCLUDED. (LKM)
Main Term(s): Sentencing/Sanctions
Index Term(s): Crime seriousness measures; Sentencing factors; Sentencing guidelines; Sentencing recommendations; Sentencing reform; Studies
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=50568

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